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Chocolate Teddies (Paleo, Gluten Free) + A day at home

IMG_3144 (640x427)I haven’t done one of these posts in a while now. Documenting what I did with Asher in a day. I wrote about child led play back in June 2015! These days are getting rarer because I always seem to be busy. Busy with what? I wonder at times. 

Monday

6:30am- I woke up. AMAZED that it is a sleep in!! 

6:30-7:30: WOAH! Time to myself. Wash up, ate breakfast in silence. Catch up on emails, reading. Start to prepare broth for dinner.

7:30- Asher is awake! He greeted me with his messy hair and sleepy eyes. “Where is daddy?” 

(Usually daddy greets him while I take the night routine).

7:30-8:30am: Brush his teeth, change his clothes, feed him breakfast (Apple pie he wanted. I made some a few days before and I’m saying yes to that because I made it just a few days ago), vacuum, mopped… Asher joined in with me, spraying my enjo mop, pushing the mop, putting away the cords of the vacuum. 

8:30-9:30: Mummy’s guilt. I had to work. Settled Asher back to his breakfast, attempted to turn on music rather than tv but nope.. didn’t work. Tv it was.

09:40-09:40: Call time with daddy.

10-10:30- work time for me again. Asher started to play by himself. He checked in with me a few times. Started flipping and playing with newspapers near me. 

10:30-11:30: I got off work. Asher and I went outside. We turned on some music. We traced our feet and decorated it. We draw buses and ambulances. I’m impressed. Asher has started to draw! We worked on our letters. Today was letter A and B. We said A was for Asher, Ambulance, Apples and Ants. We went hunting for ants around the garden. Then we did B. B for buses (and that was where it stopped). We saw that a lemon was ripen, and we picked that. We smelt the lemon. Took it in. 

Then Asher wanted to make something.. so we made.. chocolate chip cookies! I followed this recipe again. He enjoyed whisking the egg up and mixing it all together. Best of all, he sneaked in a few of the sugar free chocolate in his mouth. While it bakes in the oven, I heated up our lunch

12- 12:30. Lunch time! He became distracted as the cookies were ready. Straight after lunch which was mushrooms, lamb roast and pumpkin…he ate 3 cookies… 

12:30-2pm: We clean up. Then as I decided to tidy up the study room a little, Asher took his trains and played there with me. I put things away, and he wanted to do some colouring. As I picked up a pen, he changed his mind and wanted stickers instead. Alright then! So we pasted stickers. Looking at different shapes and colours. 

He found his pair of safety scissors and we started practicing cutting. “open and close” He got the hang of it! We used a community news paper and started looking for transport vehicles. With my help, we cut 3 trains, 1 helicopters and 1 garbage truck out. He said we need to put it aside for daddy to see.

2-2:15pm: I started to wind him down. I said we can read but we need to pack up. So around the house we went. This time round, I was so proud of Asher. He “drove” all his vehicles back and “parked them”. I packed away his books. He allowed me to put his trains back to the play room. 

2:15-2:30pm: We read on the couch. Snuggled together under a rug. 

2:30pm: Nap time! Asher turned off the music. He caught a glimpse of chuggington on the tv as he pressed the wrong button. BUT! he allowed me to turn it off. He even commented that he turned it off. 

3pm: Ok, finally he napped.

4ish: Awake. Cuddles. Drink of water. Snuggles. Light afternoon snack while daddy comes home.

So there we go. Documenting this may not mean anything to anyone but myself, but this was one successful day where we truly enjoyed each other company. Yes, it is not perfect as I needed to work. Still, any time with my toddler…. is precious.IMG_3146 (640x427)

Speaking of which, here is the recipe for my chocolate teddies. I’m collecting cookie cutters these days. This one was in a shopping centre in Malaysia. It was $2 for 2 cutters. I used the smaller one for this one. IMG_3147 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’133′] 

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Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Slice aka “Snickers” (Paleo, Raw, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Dairy Free) + Coping with changes

IMG_3142 (640x427)It has been a busy few months. It is now May but time just seem to be ticking quickly away. So far we have,

  • Travelled
  • I have had a few stressful encounters at work 
  • Job offer followed by job change
  • Making the decision to slow down and focus on one job rather than two
  • Being immersed in the world of essential oils. Learning and using them
  • Making some goals around fitness and hitting them 

I have also learned to be kinder to myself and my family. That was a hard one to realise. As I become grouchier and grouchier, the realisation that I have not been taking time to re charge dawn on me. The decision to leave one job and focus on one was not an easy one. In the midst of trying to weigh up the pros and cons, thinking about how to make it work while still focusing on doing “my job right” ultimately lead to the biggest sacrifice.Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Slice

My family.

The symptoms were there. Snappy. Unable to be present focused. Feeling like I’m always in a rush. Feeling unappreciated. Forgetting things. 

So here we go again. Is there ever such thing as lesson learnt? While those indicators were there, it took me a while to realise what was going on. So to re focus I did

  • Decided not to schedule any thing for a day or two of the month. I did that on the past Monday and boy, Asher and I had heaps of fun together
  • There was a week when I had to swop work days. Instead of taking Asher out, I took a day out. I ran errands, met up with a friend for lunch and baked. No cleaning allowed. 
  • I spoke to hubby and he realised that perhaps he has been in the rush himself that he didn’t see the signs. So we made some changes there including scheduling some time to check in with each other.
  • There were some afternoons where I napped with Asher. Rest somehow is quite liberating.

There could be a few more changes in the next few months. Winding down a job, increasing time in one. Adapting to my current job. Still, I’m writing this list to remind me that it is ok to not having it all “balanced” all at once

Of course, indulging in what I love. Playing with my favourite ingredient recently- Peanut butter. I absolutely love this raw Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Chocolate Slice. It actually resembles snickers! IMG_3139 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’132′]

Hazelnut and Macadamia Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free) + embracing challenges

Hazelnut and Macadamia CookiesSomeone said to me this week that the beauty of life is that there will always be ups and downs. It can never always be up. The downs make us grow as a person. 

There is a choice of whether or not we fight those feeling or embrace it. 

I grew up in a family with strong female personalities. My grandmother raised 3 kids herself.  My mother is firm, no nonsense who achieved her university degree as a mature aged student. Not only do I have the blood in me, but also I grew up with those values. To be fair, it is not just the females, my father has always been hard working and drilled morals in me even as a young child. IMG_2727 (640x427)

So what happened between Nov-Jan tested me big time. While I never considered myself as very career driven, I like to think of myself as an instrument to God’s work. I was 14 when the career option of being a psychologist resounded in me. I went wiht that, and never looked back since. I love my work despite its challenges. The event made me realise how vulnerable mothers or anyone wanting part time are, in returning back to work. 

 Uncertainty, difficult conversations and changes face me. A psychiatrist whom I worked with said that given that I am Asian, a woman and a mother means I am a minority. A minority whose culture and personality is more naturally inclined to quit and leave quietly. He warmly said to me to be firm. While the events or comments are by no means racist, rather they are to point out what is naturally against myself. What the psychiatrist said sat with me for a while. IMG_2729 (640x427)

So if this is a period of growth, then I would need to embrace these feelings. It is uncomfortable. It is challenging. It is not the end of the world. I have a plan and I tend to stick to it. Accept these feelings, run with it. We may be surprised by the outcome. 

In the mean time, I am challenging myself to the kitchen. My love for nut butter remains and having spotted Health Nut Foods, I could not resist getting some for ourselves. Our first was Cinnamon Mac. Absolutely delicious. In a cookie? Double the delish. Sandwiched with more nut butter? Ooopsie. What have I done… IMG_2723 (640x427)

ps- take 1 and savour it with coffee. 

[yumprint-recipe id=’105′]

Double Chocolate Almost Raw Brownie (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Double chocolate brownieSome stress is un-necessary. Some stress is unpreventable. On most things, I like to think that I am in control of how I feel and think. As life goes on, it is clear that we cannot control other people’s behaviours and that could cause a direct stress or consequence to us- be it of no fault except I had a child and I want to return to work part time. IMG_2705 (640x427)

I can either walk away or stay to be firm. I chose to be firm. Over the past year of juggling between private and government work, I have learned to trust in myself just a tad more. Perhaps age got to do with it as well. Loyalty has nothing to do with it. Facts, remaining calm and staying present focus helps- there isn’t any point bringing up narratives or content. It is what it is. IMG_2704 (640x427)

It isn’t pleasant and I count myself blessed that I have a supportive network + a union that helps.  In a govern setting, this is probably more of an apparent issue than in a private setting where I may not even have a battle. I’m also conscious that this is a wider systemic issue and I just happen to be in the perfect storm. I’m not sure of the outcome, I just know that I’m not giving up. It makes me mad that in this time and day, we have to go through issues like this when it can be easily prevented if protocols and processes are followed. 

On some days, only chocolate would do. 

IMG_2706 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’104′] 

Salted Caramel with Nut Praline Slice (Gluten Free, Paleo, Clean eating, Raw) + Work mates

Salted caramel Praline sliceIn the kitchen of where I work has a poster near the doorway. It states what the team values. 

“someone who can bake”

I love it when the team has got its priorities right. IMG_2647 (640x427)

When it became my turn to provide morning tea though, my mind races. What can I bring that could potentially be a crowd pleaser, something perhaps a little different but also refined sugar free? IMG_2649 (640x427)

I was anxious. This is a team that is used to having gorgeous home made cakes made with traditional flour and sugar. Each time, I felt tongue tied when I explain why I’m not a fan of gluten, sugar or anything refined. I was conscious it could make me stick out like a sore thumb but still wanting to stand my ground of our food philosophy.

This slice was inspired by the Merrymaker sisters’ snickers cake. My biggest take away from their recipe was the gorgeous nut praline. Starting from there, I created my layers and made it to suit my taste. 

It was gone by the end of the day and that was all the confirmation I needed. 

If you are looking for a cool christmas treat to bring or make, this would be a lovely one to try!IMG_2652 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’99’]

French Toast with Shitake Mushrooms, Bacon and Maple Syrup

I do love a good breakfast. It sets the day up and makes us feel good. Hubby is more of a morning person than I am- but even so, I love the stillness of the day and how give little tell tales of what a fresh beginning looks like.

I wouldn’t call this a “everyday breakfast”. It was more of a brunch for us! Ever since I started to eat clean more frequently, we rarely have bread in the house. Pregnant though, does bring certain challenges and I find myself wanting more carbs than ever. Armed with a few additional slices of bread that is almost at the end of its life, I soaked it with some egg and panfried it.

I have had pancakes with bacon and maple syrup before and thought, hey, we could do a french toast version. My new found love for fresh shitake mushrooms is probably the most healthy ingredients in this dish! Nevertheless, the combination of french toast, grilled shitake mushrooms and a slice of bacon with a drizzle of maple syrup… it was yum!

This little bottle of maple syrup was bought near the markets at Brooklyn Bridge.

I said goodbye to my colleagues last friday. It probably would not be a permanent goodbye, but it invoked so many emotions in me. Sadness, relief, glad, anxiety…. It marks a change in my identity. I recall the first day of work, so full of excitement of what I can accomplish and learn and in my years of being in this organisation, I felt so blessed that I have been invited to into so many homes. Into many distraught families and in one way or another, I learned heaps from them as I work with them to have some clarity of what needs to be done next. On an organisation level, I’m walking away from beautiful colleagues who have a heart of gold and I am proud to be associated with them.

Work does not define me, yet it is part of who I am. As I settled into the idea of being a mum, and dare I say it…. a domestic goddess trainee, I know that the change will be good.

Plus, it gives me a chance to try out and cook up a different kind of storm in the kitchen.

French Toast with Shitake Mushrooms, Bacon and Maple Syrup (Serves 2-3)
2 pieces of bread
3 eggs
1/4 cup of almond milk
sprinkle of sugar
knob of butter

200 grams of shitake mushrooms
handful of chives
1 tsp of chopped garlic
1 knob of butter

2 slices of bacon- make it free range and grass fed
maple syrup

Whisk up eggs with almond milk and sugar. Soak bread into it. Heat pan up and melt butter. Sizzle bread on it.

Meanwhile, in another pan, sauté mushrooms with butter and garlic. Toss in chives. Set aside. Sizzle bacon on it.

Assemble french toast, mushrooms and bacon on it. Drizzle maple syrup. Dig in! You will be full for hours!

 photo MTWsignature_zpsaefba23f.png

Picnic Fun- Smoked Salmon and Garlic Teriyaki Chicken Sushi

So AR realized that I have been really tense recently. Work was getting waay into me. He suggested that we head to rural Western Australia, around 45 minutes drive from the city for a picnic. He even offered to make sushi and prepare dip and carrot sticks for the trip! He knows that sushi is my comfort food. I can have it any time of the day! How impressed I was!!

Except that it took him 30 minutes to cut the vegetables up.

And I got impatient.

So I got my hands into rolling the sushi, thinking that he will be done soon and will take over.

But I ended up rolling them all!!!

He was sweet though. And even packed a magazine for me to read during the picnic. Did you notice that he even packed soya sauce? He took the WHOLE bottle! =)

And all the lovely vegetables that he cut up for me to munch on (he also cut the veges for the sushi).

And the wonderful waterfall that we saw. 

I am very blessed with a caring and loving hubby (just not when he spent 30 minutes cutting vegetables!!!! ;P)

Sushi (I think we made more than 60 small size sushi-around 5 rolls. It was our lunch the next day too!)
3 cups of sushi rice (cooked using the instructions on the packet)
around 1 tablespoon of sugar
2-3 tablespoon of rice vinegar
150 grams of smoked salmon 
1 cucumber, 1 carrot and 1 avocado sliced longitudinally.
2-3 crab sticks defrosted
wasabi!
you can use mayo but I am on a health kick so no mayo for us.
5 pieces of sushi grade seaweed 

Garlic teriyaki chicken- cooked 100 grams of chopped chicken thigh with garlic and teriyaki sauce.

Season rice with sugar and rice vinegar. Taste to check seasoning. 

Place seaweed on sushi mat. Place around 2-3 tablespoon of rice on it. Flatten it using wet hands. It should fill around 3/4 of the seaweed. Swipe wasabi longitudinally. Place veges and smoked salmon/chicken on it. Roll sushi up. Making sure to tighten the roll as you go along. Cut sushi using a sharp knife. Serve with wasabi and soy sauce.

Warm Sesame Prawn Ramen Salad



I finally realized that the best way to juggle between work and posting is to save some drafts in my folder and write it up when I have a break (or need a break). So I’m trialing that this week-hopefully I will have more chances to write up! My “to write” folder is getting quite full.

Something interested happened over the weekend. AR and I attended our first pre-marital session. We did a questionnaire about 1 month ago and then met up with our pastor to have a chat about our views about marriage. It’s a real eye opener and I was surprised that AR found it helpful as well. Certainly both of us did not approach the topic of marriage without any consideration to the topics discussed but it is useful to have a 3rd party person giving us some honest opinions and thoughts as well.

For me, it is a different experience as I’m used to being on the other side of the table. I did find it refreshing because it reminded me of how it would feel being on the other side.

This week, I’m sharing a noodle salad dish with the lovely folks at Presto Pasta (will add links later when I’m at home). Spring is upon us here in Perth and it feels great to have the sunshine again. The juiciness of prawns and tangy sauce goes well with the ramen.

Warm Sesame Prawn Ramen Salad
1 cup of peeled prawn cutlets
carrots, julienne
2 stalks of spring onions
1 cup of dried shitake mushrooms, dehydrated and sliced.
1 tablespoon of soya
1/2 packet of dried ramen noodles
1 tsp of sesame seed

Sauce
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 tsp of honey
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of sesame oil
3-4 tablespoons of warm stock

1) Boil water and cook ramen. Drain and keep warm.

2) Quickly heat a tsp of oil and cook prawn cutlets with a pinch of salt. Add the remaining vegetables. Add soya. Do a taste test.

3) Spoon vegetables and prawns on top of ramen noodles. Combine dressing together and pour on salad if needed (or serve at the table).

Sharing this with the gang at Presto Pasta organized by Ruth from Once Upon a Feast.

Peanut Butter Ham Cheese French Toast


I had my first ever blood test yesterday. I don’t know about you but I hate needles. Needless to say, I was a teany winy bit nervous about the blood test.

Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as what I thought it would be. In that case, fear was definitely bigger than the pain. Well, action is the best cure of fear and I’m glad I experienced it. Having a friendly nurse certainly help though. As she checked my veins, she said that I should have drank more water prior to the session but she managed to find a “nice, juicy vein”-a little joke that certainly broke the tension. All I felt was a tiny prick and after what seems like ages, she said it was done. I turned around and saw FOUR vials of blood! Woah! I’m glad I didn’t see her drawing it.

On another note, I got impatient and rang up my supervisor to ask for the status of my thesis examination. It has been 4 months since I submitted it. Apparently, one examiner pulled out hence my thesis has traveled from London to Norwich to the next appointed examiner.

Isn’t it ironic that my thesis has clocked more miles than I have?

The good news is that the other examiner did finish her report and I passed!!

So I’m praying hard that the new examiner will be a nice, patient, sweet person who will pass me as well.

All these dramas make me crave for something comforting. Sinfully comforting. And it has to be different. So one lazy Sunday afternoon, I had a crazy idea of sandwiching ham and cheese between peanut butter slattered bread soaked in beaten eggs.

I felt slightly guilty and paired it with a simple baby spinach salad with a quick drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

And surprisingly, it was pretty yummy!

Peanut Butter Ham Cheese French Toast (Serves 2)
4 slices of thick white bread
3 eggs
1 tsp sugar

4 slices of ham
3 slices of sliced smoked chedder cheese
peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon of reduced fat spread

1) Slatter bread with peanut butter on both sides. Lay ham and cheese. Top it off with another piece of bread.

2) Lightly beat eggs with sugar. Soak bread in the egg mixture for around 1-2 minutes on each side.

3) Heat pan and melt butter. Fry sandwiches both side till golden brown. Serve with salad.

Dried shrimps, scallops and cabbage rice


First day of work-AR asked if I was nervous or excited this morning. Funny enough, I did not feel anxious or nervous and went on to prepare for the morning as I would have normally. Probably being a trainee for the past 3 years helped-I suppose essentially, the first days are the same except this time round, I dropped the title of the trainee! Woohoo!! Oh, and get paid of course.

What I will expect the change over time though, is the energy and time require to prepare meals. I need to be more time wise now and prepare quick meals that are nutritious and freezer friendly.

Darn, I think I need a bigger fridge!!

In the mean time, I found this in my folder which I believe will come in handy for us. It’s another one pot dish that utilizes the rice cooker. Easy!! A little luxurious as well as I used dried scallops.

Dried Shrimps, Scallops and Cabbage Rice (Serves 4)
1/2 cup of dried shrimps rinsed and soaked for 15 minutes. Drain
1/2 cup of dried scallops soaked in hot water for a few minutes, drain.
1/2 a shredded cabbage
handful of dehydrated mushrooms chopped
1 clove of garlic
2 cups of rice

3 eggs lightly beaten

1) Heat a wok and add oil. Add beaten eggs and swirl-lightly roll eggs up and dish it up. Set aside.

2) Wash and cook rice in rice cooker.

3) Reheat wok and oil. Add garlic, cabbage, mushrooms, dried shrimps and scallops. Add pepper. Cook till done and dish into the rice cooker. Cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with the rolled eggs.